Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Counselor Education and Supervision

Department or School/College

College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Chair

Kirsten W. Murray

Commitee Members

Lindsey M. Nichols, Veronica I. Johnson, Judith C. Durham, Trent Atkins


University of Montana


Bhutan is a small Himalayan country experiencing vast changes as its traditional, Buddhist, collectivist culture meets Westernized culture in the process of globalization. The significant differences in culture and the idealization of the West has led to an increase in mental health issues in Bhutan, especially among the youth population. The government has recognized this and supports the growth of mental health professions. Currently, there are few mental health workers in Bhutan, but they have recently initiated a Bachelors-level counselor training program and have provided brief training to teacher counselors in schools to better address the rising problems. However, there is no information about how to internationalize the counseling profession to fit Bhutanese culture, and specifically to be most beneficial for clients. In this phenomenological study, I interviewed twelve Bhutanese mental health clients about their experiences with counseling. Their responses ultimately showed that the development of trust in the clientcounselor relationship is the central component of the counseling process within the specific Bhutanese cultural context. Counselors established trust by conveying empathy for the client through their characteristics and qualifications, behaviors, and specific approaches to counseling. When clients perceived empathy, they felt understood, experienced relief, and then shared openly and honestly, engaging in the counseling process. This research has implications on the practice and training of counseling in Bhutan, as well as broader international communities. Future research is needed to establish standardization and evaluate effectiveness of counseling in Bhutan.



© Copyright 2017 Michaela Maureen Sacra